Best camera for A-level photography?

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by neil f, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. neil f

    neil f Guest

    My son is just starting an A-level photography course and his current camera
    is looking a little limiting - an oldish Olympus with few manual settings.
    The course tutor has suggested some possible choices (I'm assuming these are
    available second hand as my budget has its limits): Pentax MZ-M, Canon EOS
    3000V, Nikon F55.

    Anyone have any experience of these or know their good/bad points. Never
    having tried any of them it's hard to know which one to look out for (or is
    there nothing to choose between them?).

    -Neil F.
    neil f, Sep 21, 2004
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  2. neil f

    Phil Hobgen Guest

    Hi Neil,

    I've just brought an Nikon F55 + 28-100 + 70-300 zooms from Jessops for £250
    as a present for some one. I'm really pleased with my F80 and this seemed
    like a good deal for 'budget' autofocus. Jessops also have a 'used' section
    on their website, I believe they give a 12 month warranty on everything from
    there, and you can buy from the individual store by mail if its not in
    driving distance.


    Phil Hobgen, Southampton, UK
    Phil Hobgen, Sep 21, 2004
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  3. Hello Neil,

    I've got a Minolta 500si plus short zoom that's surplus to requirements
    (I've gone digital). I've had the outfit since new. It's had only light
    use and is in perfect working order. If it's likely to be of any use, drop
    me an email.

    There's a spec here, so you can see what whether it will meet your lad's
    needs - (search on
    "Dynax 500si"). There's also a user's review here -


    Roger Whitehead, Sep 21, 2004
  4. neil f

    SL Guest

    Hi Neil,

    Out of the 3 you mention I'd pick the Pentax as though only having manual
    focus it does have 'Depth-of-Field-Preview' which I think is a great tool to
    have,especially when starting out. Its used for showing what is and is'nt in
    focus before taking the photograph and assists with landscapes, portraits
    and close-ups.

    The F-55 and 3000-V are much the same level, (though the Canon system has
    the quicker AF which may sway you if considering action pictures but not
    overly crucial to begin with), but I cross them off as neither has

    If possible I'd select the next model up bein 300v from Canon or Nikon's
    F-75. Both are excellent and I also suggest you get your son to handle each
    body to make sure it feels comfortable to use. On a personal level I prefer
    Nikon body design.

    To keep costs down you could go for the previous models, being the Nikon
    F-65 and Canon EOS 300, though Canon have just anounced a new 300X to
    replace the 300V so their prices should come down.

    Another consideration is the Minolta Dynax 5 which is very nice and a small
    body with AF as good as Canon's. However, even though I've had Pentax
    cameras, these days I'd stick to Nikon/Canon as they lead the field for
    Digital slr's and offer the most accessories when compared to the other 2.

    As to lens choice, basic kits have small zooms in the 28-80/105 range and
    telephoto for action shots in the 70-300mm range.

    If you can tell us your budget then maybe we can direct you towards kit
    deals from price runners. As an example Ask Electronics
    ( offer the 28-90+75-300 lens kit for £259 with free
    postage, but have none in stock just now. Typical but it does mean you can
    go down to your local Dixons/Jessops and get to handle the cameras before

    Good luck with you son starting out in the hobby and if he has any queries I
    am sure everyone here will assist.


    any experience of these or know their good/bad points. Never
    SL, Sep 22, 2004
  5. neil f

    SL Guest

    Oops, its the Canon EOS300V kit it relates to:

    SL, Sep 22, 2004
  6. neil f

    Mark Dunn Guest

    If he has the OM-10, there is a manual adapter which plugs in the jack
    socket and has aperture/speed dials. I'm sure there'll be one on ebay.
    (PS_i've just looked. There are a few. I doubt they'll go over £20). I'd
    always stick with kit I knew and liked.
    Mark Dunn, Sep 22, 2004

  7. When I went to college I about 4-5 years back for photography I used a
    couple of Nikon FM bodies. I actually sold my 'new' mid-range Canon AF SLR
    to buy these. The college's own 35mm SLR's were Pentax K-1000 's. These
    cam's are both all-manual/mechanical bodies and the idea is they'll provide
    a steeper and 'correct' learning curve for someone wanting to really learn
    photography. Some say this is not the case and because modern AF SLR's can
    be switched to manual settings for exposure and focusing they're just as
    valid as a learning tool. I disagree. Something like a SH FM help make your
    son quickly proficient in camera techniques - selecting exposure correctly
    and quick, accurate manual focusing are fundamentals. These cameras are also
    solidly built all-metal jobbies with truly useful features like a DOF
    preview and PC sync socket (for studio flash). Finally, they're bargains -
    you can pick up SH FM's and AI/AIS manual Nikkors at silly prices lately.
    If his 'old' Olympus still works then perhaps invest in another lens or two
    rather than a low grade plastic 'new' camera with a shoddy zoom lens?
    There's nothing to be gained but something to loose by switching to a cheap
    AF cam' if you want to study photography rather than take snapshots
    Simon Stanmore, Sep 22, 2004
  8. neil f

    Alan Guest


    AFAIK all EOS cameras have a DOF preview button.
    Alan, Sep 22, 2004
  9. neil f

    SL Guest

    Hi Alan,

    While the majority of Canon af slr's do have DOF, the 3000 series do not as
    they are the most basic models, but still good.

    For specs see:
    for the 3000V

    for the 3000N

    However as others have suggested the way forward may be with the Olympus
    mentioned (a model number would be helpful though), and it is also
    worthwhile asking family members if they have any kit lying around un-used
    now that they have digital compacts?

    I am even thinking of getting the slr I started with, the unbreakable Zenith
    SL, Sep 22, 2004
  10. neil f

    Bandicoot Guest

    Personally I do prefer Pentax, both for the optical quality and the
    ergonomics. But aside from that, the DoF Preview is very important, and I'd
    never buy a camera without it, still less expect someone to learn on one
    that lacked it. The MZ-M and numerous older Pentax bodies (though not
    including the K1000) have this, and so do many bodies from other

    Choose a body with the features you need - manual control, DoF preview, a
    'proper' flaxh sync. socket - and robust build. But also make sure your son
    finds it comfortable to hold and use: ergonomics are a very personal thing,
    and it is hard to reach the stage of working intuitively with a camera that
    never feels comfortable in the hand, or with controls that don't fall
    naturally under the fingers.

    Bandicoot, Sep 22, 2004
  11. neil f

    Paul Friday Guest

    I'm assuming that as he is studying photography, he will be expected to
    use a manual camera so that he can learn the effects of the different

    You could look for something like Jessop's own-brand Centon camera. The
    Centon K200 costs £100 with a standard lens, which is about half the
    cost of a Pentax MZ-M.
    The alternative is to look on eBay for any of the clone Pentax K-mount
    cameras. Try Chinon, Ricoh... there are others.
    Paul Friday, Sep 23, 2004
  12. Many, if most, auto cameras have a manual settings option.

    Roger Whitehead, Sep 23, 2004
  13. neil f

    neil f Guest

    Thanks for all the ideas, guys. Much appreciated.
    neil f, Sep 24, 2004
  14. [Simon Stanmore wrote in]
    I worked in photographic retail in 1996 - we had a run on
    K1000s *each and every September* (the local college had a good
    photography school.)

    They are smashing cameras, I absolutely love mine. Picking
    up decent k-mount lenses is simple and inexpensive.

    I got my k1000 in 1993 - in about 2002, the shutter stopped
    firing (it was continually cocked, the shutter would not
    release.) It cost me 20ukp to be repaid and fully serviced
    in the centre of Sheffield by an enthusiast (he fixed the
    issue and then returned the condition of the shutter and
    timings of the shutter settings to original - probably a
    number of hours work for £20 !!)
    Andy Davidson, Sep 25, 2004
  15. I don't know about the -V variet, but IIRC the EOS-3000 didn't have
    depth of field preview. I'd imagine this feature would be pretty
    essential for a photography course. I can't comment on the others you

    I'd suggest looking around for second-hand manual-focus cameras. Olympus
    OMs, for example, or the pre-EOS canons. All the manual control you want
    (except OM-10), and you can get good lenses cheaply second-hand to
    Simon Waldman, Sep 26, 2004
  16. You might even want to look for an old m42 mount manual camera as they are
    literally cheap as chips and there are huge numbers of inexpensive second
    hand lenses floating around for them. Not much in the way of automatic
    capability of course but perfectly useable if it's a manual camera you

    Some of the 1970s ones will have TTL metering and a pretty wide range of
    shutter speeds.

    My Chinon -- not the best available by any means -- is built like a tank
    and has depth of field preview, Cds stop-down metering and mirror lock-up
    using the self-timer).

    [It cost me around ten quid and another 20 or so for another couple of
    lenses and a basic flash]

    Matthew McGrattan, Sep 27, 2004
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